October 1, 1949 Mao Zedong proclaims the founding of the People's Republic of China in Beijing after 22 years of civil war. The defeated government of the Republic of China - the Kuomintang (KMT) led by Chiang Kai-shek - retreats from Nanking (now known as Nanjing or 'southern capital'; Beijing means 'northern capital') to Taipei. 1950 The People's Liberation Army begins operations to secure Tibet as part of the republic with the Battle of Chamdo. 1951 In May, the 14th Dalai Lama signs the 17 Point Agreement for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet. 1951-52 Mao launches campaigns aimed at cleansing corruption and enemies of the state. The campaigns root out wealthy capitalists and elements still loyal to the former KMT government. 1955 The Second East Turkestan Republic - a vast, culturally and linguistically Turkic region that played a trade role with the West - officially becomes the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. 1956-7 Mao launches the 100 Flowers Movement. It allegedly aims to allow the people to express their views. The result is a flood of criticism. Probably more than half a million people are imprisoned, demoted, sent to reform camps, or killed, in the Anti-Rightist Campaign that follows. 1958-61 The government launches the Great Leap Forward, an ambitious plan to jump-start the agricultural and industrial sectors. Vast people's communes formed; people make steel in backyard furnaces; farming is neglected. By the early 1960s, a famine is claiming millions of lives. The death toll is unknown, but some sources claim as many as 30 million died. 1959 Tibetans rise up against Chinese Communist Party (CCP) rule; the Dalai Lama flees to India. 1961 Beijing and the Soviet Union split, due to differences over ideology and national interests. 1964 The government formalises the system of simplified characters that is in place today. The first nuclear bomb is tested in October. 1966 Mao launches the Cultural Revolution, along with an attack on the Four Olds - Old Customs, Old Culture, Old Habits, and Old Ideas. Young people form groups of Red Guards. They roam the country destroying traditional culture and persecuting people from the 'wrong' backgrounds. Much of the mainland's historical legacy is destroyed. 1968 Mao launches a Down to the Countryside movement. Many students are forced to leave their schools and universities and relocate to remote villages to learn from the masses. They are known as the Lost Generation. 1971 Beijing replaces Taipei as the representative of China in the United Nations. 1975 The government launches the Four Modernisations - Agriculture, Industry, Technology and Defence - in an attempt to get the country back on track to becoming a modern, developed nation. 1976 In early April, thousands mourning the death of respected premier Zhou Enlai take part in protests and a violent crackdown follows. In July, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake strikes the northern city of Tangshan. The official death toll is more than 252,000, but some reports suggest it could be more than 600,000. Less than two months later, Mao dies. His death leads to the fall of the so-called Gang of Four who are held responsible for the Cultural Revolution. Pragmatist senior CCP official Deng Xiaoping re-emerges from house arrest. 1977-78 During a brief period of liberalisation known as the Beijing Spring, worker Wei Jingsheng argues China needs a fifth modernisation - democracy. He is imprisoned. In 1978, Deng begins to push for economic reforms. 1979 China and the US normalise diplomatic relations. The one-child policy is introduced. 1980 Special Economic Zones are established in Shenzhen, Xiamen, Shantou, Zhuhai, and Hainan. Deng launches a programme of gaige kaifang (reforms and opening). 1984 British prime minister Margaret Thatcher signs the Sino-British Joint Declaration, agreeing to hand over Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and the New Territories on July 1, 1997. 1989 University students in Beijing begin to put up posters mourning the death of party reformer Hu Yaobang and criticising the government. By April 21, the eve of Hu's funeral, 100,000 students have gathered in Tiananmen Square. They call for an end to official corruption, a greater opening up of the economy and for more public involvement in politics. Students and workers are forcefully dispersed by army units on June 4. Estimates as to how many Beijing citizens die in the crackdown vary enormously - perhaps several hundred, perhaps more than 2,000. Student leaders are imprisoned or go into exile. In December, China's first stock markets open in Shanghai and Shenzhen. 1991 The first branch of McDonald's opens in Beijing. 1992-3 As Jiang Zemin consolidates power, Deng embarks on his Southern Tour. He visits the cities of Shenzhen, Zhuhai and Guangzhou and praises their economic progress. He initiates a wave of entrepreneurship. 1994 The Three Gorges Dam project, involving the relocation of 1.3 million people, is launched. 1997 In February, Deng dies aged 92. He is lauded as the man who led China into the modern world. Hong Kong's handover takes place on July 1. 2001 China is awarded the 2008 Olympic Games and joins the World Trade Organisation. 2002 Sars breaks out in Guangdong and Beijing is accused of not being transparent. 2003 China puts a manned spaceship into orbit. Yang Liwei becomes the first space traveller from the mainland. 2006 Statistics show China is producing more fossil fuel emissions than the United States. 2007 A new property rights law provides greater rights of ownership. 2008 The Beijing Summer Olympics are preceded by violent protests in Lhasa and a massive 7.9 magnitude earthquake in Sichuan with a death toll close to 100,000. Astronauts walk in space. Tainted milk powder scandal affects thousands of mainland babies. 2009 Ethnic tensions in Urumqi, Xinjiang, lead to mass protests and at least 196 deaths. The 60th anniversary of the People's Republic of China takes place tomorrow.